I flew on a retrofitted United Airlines 737-800 in first class with a “United Next” interior, which has transformed a rather dreary-looking 737 into a sleek and modern cabin.
United Airlines 737-800 First Class Review
I’ve already written about the humor on this flight and will not rehash it again here. Instead, I’ll focus on the seat, IFE, service, and food onboard.
My ticket was about $169 one-way from Los Cabos to Los Angeles via Denver and I used PlusPoints to upgrade both segments (20 PlusPoints total). My upgrades likely would have cleaned anyway (certainly on this segment, which went out with one open seat), but this took the chance out since the confirmed space was available when I booked.
I’m calling this “first class” because that is how United markets and sells it on domestic flights, but on flights to or from Mexico, like this one, it is marketed as “United Business” which if functionally the same thing but does allow lounge access for premium cabin travelers.
I checked in only about 70 minutes prior to departure in SJD (traffic was heavy going back and we took the main road because the navi suggested it would be quicker than the toll road). I’ve also already spoken about the amazing ground staff here, but in short upon checking in I found out that my flight was delayed and the wonderful staff tried to coax me onto the nonstop flight, which would have got me home about four hours earlier than via Denver.
The trouble, as I explained, was that I needed two segments more for Premier 1K status so I stuck with the circuitous routing.
It was never made clear what the reason for the delay was, beyond being mechanical. There’s always a fear of a mechanical delay at an outstation like Los Cabos due to a lack of parts, but after extending the gate delay three times (totaling about 90 minutes), we finally boarded our flight and rather quickly pushed back.
Los Cabos (SJD) – Denver (DEN)
Depart: 3:27 PM
Arrive: 6:32 PM
Duration: 03hr, 05min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Distance: 1,189 miles
Seats: 2A (Business Class – “First Class” on domestic US flights)
I was among the last to board, preferring to wait out the delay in the nearby VIP Lounge (Priority Pass). The cabin pictures below were taken after we landed in Denver.
I was surprised to step onboard and see a United Next interior. It is my understanding that only a single Boeing 737-800 has been retrofitted. Eventually, all of United’s narrowbody fleet will receive an updated interior, but this process has been slowed by “supply chain” delays.
United’s latest generation “first class” seat, which also appears on the Airbus A321neo, has “wings” and an “articulated cradle” such that when you recline the seat cushion slides forward to give the illusion of greater recline. There’s a hardshell behind the seat so when you recline the person behind you does not know.
This cabin had 16 seats spread out over four rows in a 2-2 configuration. Seat pitch is 37 inches, the length of the seat is 20 inches, and there recline is five inches.
Seat 1B has a bulkhead cutout for your feet – the only bulkhead seat with this feature.
Between seats is a faux marble table large enough for four drinks.
Each seat has a universal A/C and a USB-C cable (I loved that since I don’t carry around USB-A cables any longer), plus a wireless charging station for your mobile phone under one of the armrests.
The tray table folds out from the side of the seat and has a flip-up feature to prop up your tablet or mobile device
Overhead, there were individual overhead air nozzles.
Everything onboard had been updated, including the aircraft walls and window shades.
Food + Drink
A pre-departure choice of water or sparkling wine was offered.
Lunch orders were taken after takeoff, with a choice between:
Grilled chicken breast with coconut curry sauce, white rice with spinach, sautéed zucchini & carrots
Penne pasta with roasted tomato sauce, and sautéed bell peppers
(no menus were offered)
This has more or less been the choice out of catering stations in Mexico for many years. The chicken breast is always a safe choice and it turned out to be just perfect (for the dog too…).
First, though, a hot towel was offered followed by a choice of beverages served with mixed nuts. The nuts were served in a silver disposable ramekin but included pistachios and pecans, which is a big upgrade over the usual almonds with a few broken cashews that are served out of the USA.
The meal included a side salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber with balsamic vinegar and olive oil), warm bread roll, and a brownie.
Great lunch and reasonably healthy…I would love to see this option on domestic flights. The chicken breast was not overly salty and I just dipped my vegetables in the sauce a bit.
IFE + Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi internet ($8 for MileagePlus members, $10 for non-members) worked well thought the flight, even though we were warned it might not work in all stages. It is my understanding this aircraft had ViaSat wi-fi, which would theoretically work anywhere.
There was also a setback screen (13 inches) that included a library of TV shows, movies, games, music, and even “From the Flight Deck” (aka Channel 9), though that was turned off. There were also news updates and a moving flight map.
The screen was adjustable and could be flipped up slightly.
There is Bluetooth connectivity in this IFE system, so you do not have to use the cheap complimentary headphones provided.
It was really a beautiful day outside and I took a lot of pictures out the window as we pushed back and took off.
Sorry, I do not have any lavatory pictures because I did not get up during the flight…it was a flight for the ages and with my seatmate a bit inebriated and talkative, I simply remained in my seat.
We can debate whether it was appropriate for the flight attendant to have given a leftover first class meal to the dog, but I thought the crew on this flight was great. They were kind, extremely attentive, and gracious. I really appreciated this crew and would love to fly with them again.
Despite the late departure, we only arrived about 35 minutes late in Denver. It had been almost a decade since Denver was my port of entry into the USA and the walk was quite long…about 12 minutes at a very brisk pace…to the immigration facilities. Once through immigration, I re-cleared security and was soon on my way to the lounge with time to spare before my connection to Los Angeles.
This was a comical flight, but it was a good flight. A nice seat, good service, decent lunch, functional Wi-Fi, plenty of IFE…what more could I ask for?